Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trapped in poetry

I am still struggling with my Paris poem, painting her as both a whore and a presence who saved my soul. I am not a poet, yet the exercise of writing a poem, especially one this important to me on a personal level, is freeing. It's using a different part of my word brain. It's practicing an economy of words that I don't normally use.

I am a goddess when it comes to meeting word counts, but a poem demands even stricter guidelines. Every word comes under scrutiny. Why did you pick it? What does it say? How does it sound? What else could it mean? These questions all matter in poetry.

What's fun about poetry is the process of distillation. You must think of what you need to say, and compose it in your head, then keep rephrasing it until you hit the right mix. As a consequence, where writers can ponder a scene for an hour while vacuuming, they cannot truly put each exact word together until they sit at the screen or at paper.

A poet, on the other hand, will work those works over and over until perhaps a six-word phrase emerges. Then eventually, those words are recorded. And reworked. But so much of the actual creation can be honed without writing anything down. And that can be really freeing.

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